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Planting fruit trees in what is now the veg garden... problems?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 254
Location: Colville, WA Zone 5b
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I'm debating something...

I've been broke for many years and even though this is my 5th year on the homestead, this will finally be the year I have the $ to put in fruit trees.

But here's the problem - I have a great veg garden area fenced in against the deer and set up with a great hugel, some raised beds and otherwise, just some cleared garden area with irrigation and everything. I have space for about 3 fruit trees. BUT I have money for about 8-10 fruit & nut trees budgeted and I know with fruit trees because they take so long, I really WANT to get more rather than less.

In THEORY I could put the trees in various places in the garden, spacing them out, and just plan on working on expanding the veg garden gradually so by the time the trees (which will be all dwarf/semi dwarf) are big enough to shade out most of the garden, I'd have new areas to plant anyway.

Is this a bad plan? I always read about people putting in orchards but I do not have time or resources to clear out more of my forest this year (I'm already clearing one area for critters and don't have the budget to clear out/irrigate an orchard also).
 
Posts: 1651
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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If you had the money and cleared out some new space and planted some fruit tree, leaving the soil bare would be less than optimal, and you would probably want to plant some fast growing seeds, maybe you would even chop and drop. With a vegetable garden you are pretty much doing the same thing, except instead of chop and drop you would harvest and eat, but the root mass would still be a "chop and compost in place".

I would say go ahead and plant the fruit tree and vegetables in the garden. There are a couple consideration though.
Give each tree a 3ft diameter to them self.
When you harvest the vegetables, cut the stem and leave the root of the vegetables in the soil without pulling them up.
Try to avoid planting root crop, where you have to dig up the soil to harvest them.
When you are getting your vegetables in the ground try not to dig in the soil. You can try broadcast seeding/1inch hole, if you transplant scratch a little inch hole and drop your vegetable seedling into it and if need bring some dirt/compost form elsewhere to make a mound.

Most importantly, while you will most likely be able to get away with doing a good amount of intensive gardening this year. Try and get alot of new space prepared so that you are doing most of gardening "next year/season" on some new soil.

make sure you clearly make the fruit trees, you don't want cousin "BOB" to come over and help you remove some "weird weeds-fruit tree" growing in your garden.

Another thing to consider is your zones, Don't end up with a kitchen vegetable garden in Zone 7 far away and while some pine nut/oak is right next to your house (which alot of people would consider to be close to a  zone 7)
 
pollinator
Posts: 760
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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How much land to you have? How big is the garden?

Will most the trees be standard size? Dwarfs don’t live very long here.

Have you planted anything in the woods yet? Berries, grapes, kiwi.

If you are planting smaller sized trees,  you could plant some in pots. That would give you a year or two to decide where to plant them or to get the land ready. Farmers who have cattle get some sort of feed supplement in 10-20 gallon tubs. They make great planters. You can probably get them cheap or free. I’ve got a fig tree in one and boysenberries in another.
 
Bethany Dutch
pollinator
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Location: Colville, WA Zone 5b
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OK to answer some questions, I have a decent sized area fenced off for a garden and about half of it has been "claimed." Couldn't tell you how big it is, it's oddly shaped and I've never measured it but I'd guess it's about 40x75 or so. I have a 25 foot hugel running through it so if we're just talking 10 trees it's not like I wouldn't have room to space out the trees or they would be planted too close together.

ALTHOUGH - if I do this, I'd want to plan for expansion at some point so I could put even more trees in there. I am planning on semi-dwarf just to keep things easy for myself although that is a good point, the local feed stores and nurseries sell a lot of semi dwarf so I'm going to assume that would be OK.

Most of what I have is forest land so my idea of clearing is cutting down trees and bucking them into rounds and getting them out of there... and then I just trim the brush as I can, layer some cardboard on top of the stubs and dump a bunch of topsoil or organic matter on top.

The big problem is deer and water - deer are quite smart and aggressive foragers here, and trees have to be irrigated at least for the first couple years around here so it doesn't really make sense to clear a new place in the woods for them. I do have plenty of space (20 acres) but I haven't done much with the woods except inoculating with some mushroom spawn as an experiment. I mean - I tried planting a patch of Jerusalem Artichoke one year, thinking they are pretty invasive so should be ok but no, the deer ate them gone and they never came back. Would be no point in me planting stuff I can't protect and/or water.

Bengi - would you clarify what you mean about zones? I assume you aren't talking about gardening zones?
 
Posts: 30
Location: Berkshire County, Ma. 6b/4a. Approx. 50" rain
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Do you have the time to intensively manage the fruit trees you plant?

You mentioned the area is fenced. Can you use the fence as a trellis, and espalier/cordon the fruit trees? For cordons, the key is to use "spur-bearing" varieties, as opposed to "tip bearing" ones.

I saw a back-to-eden style garden tour on a youtube video, and the gentleman had planted various apples throughout his veggie garden. He even planted potatoes directly underneath their canopy. I think the key to his success was the, approximately, 33 foot layer of broken down wood chips he had built up; and that he pruned his trees with an open center which allowed a lot of light to reach the veggies underneath.

Is grafting an option for you? That could open up a few more possibilities.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1947
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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I would put the trees in the unclaimed portion of your garden area. It's fenced so that's half the battle right there.
Since you plan on bucking the trees into rounds, consider using the rounds as stepping stones/mulch.
Maybe you should get fewer trees, but invest in irrigation bags for the ones you do get. I believe they are reusable so you can save yourself considerable amount of labor over the course of years
 
Bethany Dutch
pollinator
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Location: Colville, WA Zone 5b
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William Bronson wrote: I would put the trees in the unclaimed portion of your garden area. It's fenced so that's half the battle right there.
Since you plan on bucking the trees into rounds, consider using the rounds as stepping stones/mulch.
Maybe you should get fewer trees, but invest in irrigation bags for the ones you do get. I believe they are reusable so you can save yourself considerable amount of labor over the course of years



What's the benefit of irrigation bags? That particular area is actually sub irrigated most of the year and I already have driplines out there anyway so I'm not sure if that would be necessary. But that's kinda what I'm planning on doing. I definitely have SPACE for all the trees, and then some... I just know that if I plant them there, then I'd eventually have to find a new home for sun-loving veggies.
 
Bethany Dutch
pollinator
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Kamaar Taliaferro wrote:Do you have the time to intensively manage the fruit trees you plant?

You mentioned the area is fenced. Can you use the fence as a trellis, and espalier/cordon the fruit trees? For cordons, the key is to use "spur-bearing" varieties, as opposed to "tip bearing" ones.

I saw a back-to-eden style garden tour on a youtube video, and the gentleman had planted various apples throughout his veggie garden. He even planted potatoes directly underneath their canopy. I think the key to his success was the, approximately, 33 foot layer of broken down wood chips he had built up; and that he pruned his trees with an open center which allowed a lot of light to reach the veggies underneath.

Is grafting an option for you? That could open up a few more possibilities.



I don't really have a lot of time - time is my premium, between being a single mom of 3, trying to finish the house this year and also run my business that's one thing I don't have an excess of. I can't use the fence but I'm sure I could espalier them if I built something, but again, that's more time. But doesn't that limit production? I haven't looked into that part yet.

The grafting thing is a possibility - part of why I need more trees is because many of them require a pollinator. I can't just get one cherry tree, I have to get two. I have to get two apple trees and two plum trees, and so forth. Grafting may be a good solution for that. I'm not sure if I have time to learn a new skill or if it's worth it to get the equipment since I do technically have LOTS of space, it's just mostly not "claimed" yet.

And YES thank you for bringing up that documentary! I had watched it and remember liking how he had pruned his trees which let in a lot more light. I may have to watch it again.
 
Kamaar Taliaferro
Posts: 30
Location: Berkshire County, Ma. 6b/4a. Approx. 50" rain
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I haven't looked too much into how espalier or cordon effects yields. I'd think because we are pruning wood that would produce fruit buds we'd also be limiting the yield--but we can also fit many more trees per acre, than even dwarf sized trees.  

The draw of cordons/espalier for me though is context. I'm on a .25 acre urban lot, and I'd like to try as many varieties out as possible. I think the main time crunch is the need for support and the summer pruning-seshes.

I'm all for grafting. Considerably less expensive--for me at least. Usually more variety. It opens up the ability to have multiple species on one tree (if your goal is pollination just make sure to check the approximate flowering times for the varieties so they overlap).
You can buy rootstock once, and then indefinitely propagate it yourself (check out the twisted tree youtube channel for more on that, I linked below).
There's even this cool technique you can do called inter-stem grafting. Which gives the size and early production of a dwarf, but the roots of a half/full standard. (Skillcult has a video out on this, as well as a video on common household items needed for grafting. linked that below too.)



I mess with these youtube channels heavy;
-Stephen Hayes: https://www.youtube.com/user/stephenhayesuk
-Skillcult https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFZ-LGULm1gGhd3uOjiZr-A
-Twisted Tree Farm https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRaTsz4gmlE6OVEuOKOE4Ow

 
William Bronson
pollinator
Posts: 1947
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Sub irrigated? That's great!
I was thinking you would have to tend to them,but yah got that covered.
 
Bethany Dutch
pollinator
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Location: Colville, WA Zone 5b
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Well - I pulled the trigger and ordered my trees :) Let's just hope my kids don't wimp out on me, they promised they would slave labor as much as necessary to get them in when it was time LOL
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1651
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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if possible have them digg all those 3ft wide and deep holes for the fruit tree now.
And then when the trees show up you can pretty much handle the backfilling all by yourself.

And even if you have them dig put all the tree roots in all the holes and backfill it (for safety reasons).
At least when you re-digg it again in 8weeks, it will still be nice
 
Posts: 66
Location: Columbia Missouri
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   I started down this path myself about 5 years ago.  My whole garden/orchard is oriented east west.  So, everywhere in the garden gets either morning or afternoon sun.  My trees are semidwarf and spaced 20 feet apart.  There are some things I have to plant at the midpoint  between the trees such as tomatoes, peppers, and corn because they need a lot of sun.  But, for the most part shading has not been a problem.

  I have given up on planting within 3 to 4 feet of the trunk for fear of damaging the tree roots.  This area is covered in wood chips and inoculated with winecap mushrooms.  Eventually I came to the conclusion that this piece of ground will produce a certain amount of food.  The garden is not as productive as it once was.  But, the fruit trees more than make up the difference.  Also, my harvest is spread out over a longer season.  So,  I don't have things going to "waste"  in the compost pile because I didn't preserve them somehow.

   Originally I planned to move my garden when it got shaded out. These days I really don't see the need.
 
Posts: 12
Location: Southwest Wisconsin: Zone 5b: Clay bottomland soil near a river
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I noticed an unanswered question and thought I'd answer that...and throw in my 2 cents about multi species grafts.

Zones are the permaculture concept of space around your house. The closer the Zone is to the house the more intensivesly it is likely to be used and the lower the number.  Hence you wouldn't want a zone 2 veggie garden out in zone 7 (the back 40) where it is unlilely to get the care it needs.

Also while I really appreciate the theory of multi species grafts I have read quite a few stories of the different growth habits of the varieties grafted causing problems. Problems like the more vigorous of the varieties starting to take over and needing to be pruned back much harder than the other resulting in much less fruit set...just something more to consider.

I see you said you ordered, did you end up getting nut trees too? I'm just curious, I got hazelnut bushes a couple years ago...and was thinking about looking for some more nut trees/shrubs this year.
 
Bethany Dutch
pollinator
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Kat Ostby wrote:I noticed an unanswered question and thought I'd answer that...and throw in my 2 cents about multi species grafts.

Zones are the permaculture concept of space around your house. The closer the Zone is to the house the more intensivesly it is likely to be used and the lower the number.  Hence you wouldn't want a zone 2 veggie garden out in zone 7 (the back 40) where it is unlilely to get the care it needs.

Also while I really appreciate the theory of multi species grafts I have read quite a few stories of the different growth habits of the varieties grafted causing problems. Problems like the more vigorous of the varieties starting to take over and needing to be pruned back much harder than the other resulting in much less fruit set...just something more to consider.

I see you said you ordered, did you end up getting nut trees too? I'm just curious, I got hazelnut bushes a couple years ago...and was thinking about looking for some more nut trees/shrubs this year.



Thank you for answering that question! That makes a lot of sense, about the zones.

regarding the nuts, yes I got three hazelnut shrubs and a few berry bushes along with my trees. The snow is mostly gone off my bed and I've got to put the fence back up and then I can start digging holes... I think I'll have the trees in march if I remember correctly (Can't remember offhand right now).
 
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